Twitter and Triathlons: You’re Never Too Old To Try New Things
At age 48, I thought that I was too old to start tweeting my thoughts and whereabouts.
But last Monday, I came into the office all excited about my weekend listening to one of my mentors, Dr. Jeffrey Bland, speak about the emerging role of health, wellness, and nutrition in medicine. That’s when my colleague Whitney casually mentioned that I was always doing such interesting things with my life that I should start “tweeting” about my adventures!
So I want to introduce myself to all of you as the newest member of the twitter universe. You can check me, @abast, out here: http://twitter.com/abast.
I am looking forward to becoming apart of this new and exciting social media community, ‘tweeting’ about my busy schedule and upcoming activities including: attending the DDNC (Digestive Disease National Coalition) meeting on March 7th and 8th, and co-presenting at the American Pharmaceutical Association meeting on March 14th.
For those of you who are more interested in my culinary discoveries and tips on traveling gluten-free, stay tuned to my Twitter! I’ll be sure to post pictures and menus from my favorite haunts such as Bar Brenton in New York City, as well as new gluten-free gems I discover along the way.
Having been bit by the Olympic bug this month, I am also set to begin training for my first Triathlon coming up in August! I hope the many active and more experienced celiac athletes out there will join me on twitter and share their personal training tips, thoughts on staying motivated, and gluten-free product recommendations.
Back when I was struggling with undiagnosed celiac disease, I could never imagine running a marathon or setting a performance goal, as I was feeling too fatigued. Now on a gluten-free diet and feeling better and stronger than I did in my 20’s- I am eager to finally challenge myself physically to reach this personal goal.
Three years ago, after our Washington DC Cooking Spree, I raced in the University of Maryland International Run/Walk for Celiac Disease hosted by Dr. Alessio Fasano and the Center for Celiac Research. With no intention of really ‘competing’, I took third place in my age group. I was shocked, and so was Dr. Fasano. I can’t wait to tell him (@CeliacResearch) about my latest endeavor.
So here’s to spring and in the spirit of the season, may you never be too old to start fresh or try something new!
What are these two interestingly named ingredients and why do you need them in gluten-free baking?
Let’s start with xanthan gum; it is made from a type of bacteria (Xanthomonas campestris). It also is seen as the black rot that attacks various vegetables. In a controlled environment, it is introduced to, most often, corn sugar. This solution is kept at 30 degrees for several days until fermentation has taken place. The solution is then heated to stop the fermentation process. It is dried, ground and sieved into the fine powder that we purchase at the store. Xanthan gum is used as a stabilizer and also to thicken products that have high moisture content such as salad dressings. People with corn and soy allergies may need to avoid this product.
Guar gum is extracted from the guar seed (Cyanosis tetragonoloba), which comes primarily from India and Pakistan. It has excellent binding properties as well as being a plasticizer and emulsifier. Guar gum is also a water soluble fiber. It has been used for weight management and it can also have a laxative effect when taken in large quantities.
Xanthan and guar gum are both considered natural substances. Both gums dissolve in water and seem to create a more elastic consistency in gluten-free bread recipes. This helps trap the gases that are produced by the yeast, which in turn makes bread rise. When mixing these ingredients together it is best to blend all the dry ingredients first then add the liquid. The batter should be mixed well to ensure complete hydration of the gums. Most of the grains, legumes and starches used in gluten-free baking require a great deal of moisture. So, when adding the gums to these blends, you may find that your recipes require additional liquids. Otherwise, the end result will be dry. The gums are interchangeable in recipes and, as a general rule of thumb; ½ tsp is used per cup of gluten-free flour blend.
All-Purpose Flour Blend Yield: 4 cups 1 cup brown rice flour 1¼ cup white rice flour 3/4 cup potato starch 1 cup tapioca starch 2 teaspoons xanthan gum or guar gum
Regina is the President and founder of Virago Baking Company, located in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, northwest of Philadelphia.
Regina is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has been baking for more than 35 years. Some of her experience includes working for Yann Machard of Symphony Pastries located in New Jersey. She has also owned and operated several bakery businesses in Napa, CA.
Regina has always been an artisan style pastry chef, crafting all her baked goods from natural and organic ingredients. In 2007 Regina decided once again that it was time to operate her own bakery; but this time set out to do something different and more challenging. Originally, Virago was to be just an all natural bakery with some vegan desserts but, soon after opening, people continually asked for gluten-free baked goods and the numbers were too big to ignore. She was very familiar with celiac disease as her mother in-law had been diagnosed several years prior. Armed with her knowledge of ingredients and vast recipe file, Regina quickly began converting her recipes into gluten-free recipes. She continues to add more products to Virago’s gluten-free menu, including many that are vegan and gluten-free. The newest line of products, VIP (Virago Inspired Pleasures) cupcakes, are extra special cupcakes that are filled with (and some are dipped in) ganache. Many are vegan too.
Regina enjoys creating new recipes and is always willing to help those with special needs. After all, everyone should be able to have a birthday cake!
Danny the Dragon and Author Tina Turbin Share “Yummy Gluten-Free Tid Bits”
Dining Out with Your Celiac Child
After your child is diagnosed with celiac disease, one of the challenges you’ll have to face is dining out gluten-free with your celiac child. In a study by Columbia University, 86% of celiac patients said the difficulties of dining out had a negative impact on them. As a gluten-free advocate and mother (http://glutenfreehelp.info/about), I am often asked by parents for tips on how to eat out with celiac children. A surprisingly easy task, dining out with your celiac child requires a little planning and a few of the same adjustments you’re already mastering at home.
First of all, before you start taking your celiac child to restaurants for gluten-free eating, it’s important that you and your child are already familiar with the gluten-free diet, what your child can eat, what he must avoid, and how to protect him from cross-contamination. This way, you’ll know what to order from the menu and what questions to ask the server.
Make sure, before you take your celiac child out to dinner, that the two of you eat a high-protein snack about an hour before you think you’ll be ordering your food. The hungrier you are, the more likely you will make a mistake. Also, just in case your child’s meal is prepared incorrectly, it won’t be such a big deal if he has to wait while it’s being remade. If you absolutely must go to the restaurant hungry, bring a gluten-free snack for your child and a snack for yourself.
Choosing the right restaurant is an important part of successfully eating out gluten-free. There are many celiac friendly restaurant directories online. You can also call restaurants ahead of time or look at menus online to make sure there will be gluten-free options for your child. You can also have menus faxed to you. I recommend calling the restaurant when it’s not busy and speaking with the manager, chef, or both. If you’ll be dining Italian, call ahead to see if you can bring your own pasta along. Many restaurants are happy to top your gluten-free pasta with their own sauce and other ingredients.
Learn how to speak to the server. Make sure he is standing near you and can hear you clearly. Although celiac disease isn’t an allergy, it’s usually easiest to explain to your server that your child has food allergies. If your server doesn’t seem to understand, you’ll need to speak with the manager or chef.
Ask your child to pick out several items on the menu that look good, and let him know that you need to ask questions about these first because they may not be safe to eat. Make it clear that his first choice, or even his second choice, may not be okay to eat. Have your child pick out simple dishes without sauces. You’ll need to ask the server or chef lots of questions. Even if a menu item looks safe to you, the chef’s secret recipe may include gluten. For example, egg omelets can contain pancake batter, and baked potatoes can be coated with flour to make their skins crispier. I recommend being the last to order in your party. That way, your server is less likely to forget what you’ve told him. On the other hand, if your server recites the day’s specials and gives the rest of your party a few more minutes to decide what they want to order, this may be the best time to ask him to check with the chef about what your child is interested in.
Finally, make sure to warn the server about cross-contamination and its dangers. Let him know that your child’s food must be prepared on a clean surface with clean utensils. Believe me; most chefs will not realize the risks of cross-contamination unless these are made clear to them.
Learning how to meet the gluten-free dietary needs of your celiac child has required some planning and a few adjustments, but in the end, it isn’t very tough to successfully adopt a gluten-free lifestyle (glutenfreehelp.info). Similarly, going out to eat with your celiac child requires some work and planning ahead, but you’ll find that you and your child will get the hang of it in no time.
More about Tina and the “Danny the Dragon” children’s book series:
Tina Turbin was a prolific writer and speaker throughout her school years. At age 16, she wrote her first children’s book and that interest has never waned.
“Danny the Dragon ‘Meets Jimmy” is the first in Tina’s series of children’s books. Tina Turbin is currently working on the treatments for future books, as well as the sought-after Danny’s cookbook! This cookbook will teach children to prepare nutritious meals simply and educationally through Danny’s guidance, at a level a young child can understand and with just a lot of fun!
Tina Turbin became extremely interested and involved in the subjects of gluten-free, gluten sensitivity and celiac disease a number of years ago after having been diagnosed as gluten sensitive. Since then, she has engaged in diligent research and writing about these topics, contributing articles to such publications and websites as Awareness Magazine, MixingBowl.com and the Baby Boomers Knowledge Center, and Celiac.com. She also has her own gluten-free resource website, www.GlutenFreeHelp.info.
Tina resides in Dunedin, Florida, and also researches and writes on the topics of: children, families, mothers and women in society; and enjoys her abilities as an artist, decorator and author.
Make a local restaurant near you a GREAT restaurant! Download our GREAT information and take it to your favorite establishment the next time you visit.
Gluten-Free Goes Mainstream at National Restaurant Association (NRA) 2010 Show
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) through the NFCA GREAT Association and GREAT Food Service will produce a Gluten-Free Showcase Pavilion and Educational Session at the 2010 National Restaurant Association Show, held May 22nd through 25th in Chicago. The goal of this Showcase Pavilion is to present and demonstrate the entire gamut of gluten-free menu items. Representation will include the full range of products and activities from testing and menu investigation, to flour options and final products, to distribution and packaging.
The Gluten-Free Showcase Pavilion, the first of its kind held on the food industry’s most prestigious stage, will mainstream gluten-free foods and revolutionize how individuals suffering from celiac disease and gluten intolerance, almost 13 million Americans, manage their health through diet and nutrition.
In addition to the Gluten-Free Pavilion, The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) will also deliver a highly anticipated educational session, Gluten-Free: Easy as ABCDE , at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show 2010 in an effort to mainstream the gluten-free diet and educate food industry professionals on the special gluten-free dietary needs of those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
Guido’s Premium Pizza: On a Mission to Make The Best Gluten-free Pizza in Michigan
Steven Pollard, proprietor of the Guido’s Premium Pizza franchise location in Okemos/Haslett, MI has set quite a goal for his restaurant, to make the best gluten-free pizza in all of Michigan! Passionate about serving the gluten-free community and driven by his personal connection to the cause, Steven is committed to providing a safe destination and exceptional dining experience for people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and food allergies.
“I started my gluten free business by making a gluten-free pizza for my mom. After a year of failed attempts and hundreds of hours of research, I finally created the best gluten-free pizza that I sell to the public.”
Guido’s Pizza of Okemos/Haslett, MI has a robust gluten-free menu that features pizzas, pastas, salads, and even gluten-free garlic breadsticks! Guido’s Pizza also completed NFCA’s GREAT training in an effort to safeguard their gluten-free options by adopting safe serving practices.
By the many wonderful reactions from his customers, it’s safe to say Steven’s hard work has paid off!
“I was amazed at how good this pizza was, but I was more amazed at Steve’s commitment to providing a quality product and knowing/researching everything gluten-free – You’ve done a great job, and again, this is hands-down the best gluten-free pizza ever (and I have searched!). I highly recommend to all!“
NFCA is thrilled to announce two Celiac Awareness Nights in the Philadelphia Area during this 2010 sports season. The Philadelphia 76ers will host Celiac Awareness Nights on their home turf at the Wachovia Center. The Philadelphia Phillies will feature awareness of celiac disease at Citizen’s Bank Park.
NFCA invites all celiac and gluten intolerant sports fans to join us and Philadelphia Area Celiac Support Groups as we promote awareness of celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Gluten-free stadium treats will be available at specified concession stands at the Wachovia Center and Citizens Bank Park for all games.
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS Friday, March 26, 2010
The Philadelphia 76ers will host their third Celiac Awareness Night on Friday, March 26th when the Sixers meet the Atlanta Hawks. Game time is 7:00 pm at the Wachovia Center.
Seats are available in Sections 206-207 at $33 each and in Sections 307-310 at $26 per ticket plus a $6.00 per order handling fee. To get the special Celiac Awareness Night discount, be certain to enter the code CELIAC . This code also will ensure that proceeds from ticket sales go to support raising celiac awareness.
For group seating or questions about the game, call Stephanie Nieland at 215-463-9878 or email her at [email protected]. For other questions, please call NFCA’s Nancy Ginter at 215-325-1306, ext. 101.
Citizen’s Bank park will have a special gluten-free concession stand at the “Break“ area on the 200 level, in addition to the gluten-free items available at concession stands located throughout the stadium: South Philly Market behind sections 128, Redbridge beer behind section 139, behind section 204, behind section 323 and in the Brewerytown stand in Ashburn Alley.
NFCA has a rich tradition of partnering with local celiac support organizations to host these wonderful nights filled with food, fun, and all the excitement surrounding professional sporting events. We hope you will purchase your tickets today and join us for what is sure to be two fabulous evenings of Philadelphia sports—all for a great cause!
NFCA’s participation in these events is underwritten by Conte’s Pasta.
CELIAC AWARENESS DINNER Sunday, March 28, 2010
Join the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) on Sunday, March 28th as Saute restaurant hosts a very special gluten-free evening, a Celiac Awareness Dinner , in their delightfully cozy candlelit dining room in the Queen Village section of Philadelphia. We look forward to an evening of exquisite gluten-free dining in an atmosphere filled with fun and camaraderie.
Chef Nicholas J. Cassidy has prepared both an adult and a children’s gluten-free menu for this event based on Saute’s contemporary American cuisine. This three-course dinner menu has been prepared for Celiac Awareness Night with Saute’s special emphasis on seasonal ingredients and local produce. Visit the Menu section of the Saute website to view the appetizing Celiac Awareness Dinner offerings.
Fixed Price Menu Adults: $45 Children 12 and under: $15
Saute 775 S. Front Street Philadelphia, PA 19147 Reservations: 215-271-9300
For other questions, please call NFCA’s Nancy Ginter at 215-325-1306, ext. 101.
Jenna Drew Works to Make Pittsburgh a Gluten-Free Neighborhood
When genetic testing confirmed that Jenna Drew was positive for both celiac disease and lymphoma in 2007, she soon learned the importance of adhering strictly to the gluten-free diet. Her first-hand knowledge of and familiarity with the gluten-free lifestyle have aptly prepared Jenna to support awareness of celiac disease.
A true advocate at heart, Jenna has been using her celebrated title as Miss Indiana International 2010 to improve the awareness of gluten-free menu options among the restaurant industry since capturing the crown last June. The Miss International Pageant’s mission is to “Make a Difference,” and the pageant aims to promote and celebrate women aged 19 to 20 from all over the world who have accomplished impressive life goals. Candidates are asked to choose and support a personal platform, and as expected Jenna has elected to advocate for celiac disease.
She immediately proved her passion for campaigning by arranging the first Celiac Awareness Day with The Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on September 27, 2009. Jenna certainly set the bar high for future awareness endeavors – both for herself and other fellow NFCA advocates!
She has since organized and hosted a gluten-free benefit dinner at Benjamin’s, a restaurant in Jenna’s hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania in October 2009.
More recently, Jenna has taken advantage of the NFCA’s partnership with Pamela’s Products and has been hard at work hosting Cupcake Parties with the goal to raise funds in support of the NFCA’s GREAT training of a favorite restaurant located in her hometown. The Cupcake Party is simple and easy to host since the partnership allows for a free party kit provided by Pamela’s. As Jenna puts it, “All you have to do is pick a date for the party, invite guests, have fun, and take lots of pictures!”
Interested in hosting a Cupcake Party of your own or volunteering in support of the NFCA and celiac disease? Visit our website to learn more.
Keep up with Jenna as she advocates for the gluten-free lifestyle and follow her journey to Miss Pennsylvania International at her blog, http://missindianapainternational.blogspot.com/. When she’s not volunteering for the NFCA or preparing to compete for the Miss Pennsylvania International title on March 20, 2010, she works as an Account Executive for Renda Broadcasting Corporation in Pittsburgh.
NFCA is so fortunate to have four interesting, knowledgeable and dedicated volunteers working with us to answer questions that come into the NFCA information mailbox ([email protected]) from the celiac/gluten intolerant community. These questions range from specific inquiries about gluten-free food to a discussion of symptoms of celiac disease and more.
Here’s a hearty “thank you” to Jacqueline Gallagher, Rebecca Podio, Nicole Seitz and Gayle Wald.
These women are fabulous! Want to get to know them better?
Jacque Gallagher joined the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness in May 2009 as a volunteer. She was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2002 and has become quite interested in helping others who have questions concerning celiac. Jacque recently retired from teaching in the Lower Merion School District in Wynnewood, PA. Teaching all grade levels from kindergarten through fifth grade proved to be a fascinating career. Jacque lives in Devon, PA with her husband Chris and has one daughter, Jennifer, who works and lives in the Washington D.C. area.
Rebecca Podio joined the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness in January of 2009 after being diagnosed with celiac disease in late 2008. Rebecca currently is pursuing two Bachelors degrees in Petroleum Engineering and Business Administration at the University of Wyoming. She is involved in a wide variety of activities including competing at Miss Wyoming 2009, being a member of the University of Wyoming Rodeo Team, Delta Delta Delta, the Society of Petroleum Engineers and being a Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wyoming volunteer.
Nicole Seitz joined the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness in August 2008. She enjoys having one-on-one exchanges with people who have questions about symptoms, screening, and adjusting to a gluten-free lifestyle. Nicole learned that she was gluten sensitive in 2003, and felt dramatically better when she began following a gluten-free diet. Because of her personal experience in regaining her health, Nicole has a special interest in helping others make healthy lifestyle changes. In 2007, she earned a certification as a Health Counselor from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Chestnut Hill College.
Gayle Wald began volunteering with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) in August 2009. Gayle learned that she has celiac disease in 2008, and is grateful for having been diagnosed promptly and correctly by a knowledgeable gastroenterologist. She enjoys cooking and has had fun figuring out how to adapt her diet to foods that are naturally gluten-free, although she also makes a mean gluten-free muffin and corn bread. Gayle is Professor of English at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she lives with her husband and son, Zachary.
When Dr. Lucy Gibney discovered her child had severe food allergies, she got down to some serious medical research—in the kitchen. What began as a mother’s recipe for her child has today developed into a delicious alternative for people with or without special dietary considerations “The company inspiration came from our own family experience,” says Dr. Lucy. “We were able to make special treats and dishes at home yet wanted to enjoy being able to grab something delicious when we’re out and about or traveling. Sometimes you forget to pack a snack, or the item crumbles in the bottom of the backpack. Dropping into a convenient shop for a treat is fun, and sometimes downright necessary.”
Dr. Lucy’s has a dedicated bakery and they employ the best allergen control methods from the moment ingredients are sourced until they reach your plate. Lucy’s cookies are made without gluten, milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. “Her personal story…appeals to anyone who’s ever nurtured the dream of starting over,” says Inside Business magazine, which featured the company in its January issue.
As an M.D., company founder Dr. Lucy Gibney marries her understanding of strict quality standards and nutrition to provide a tasty and nutritious product that is fit , not only for those on a gluten-free diet, but for families who have multiple food sensitivities. Additionally, Lucy’s cookies are kosher parve and vegan, with no trans fat and no cholesterol. Her website provides a whole host of useful information and includes a new blog about the gluten-free lifestyle and its intersection with health and wellness.
Lucy’s cookies are found in mainstream supermarkets like Giant/Stop & Shop and Harris Teeter and in Whole Foods Markets throughout the country. And if you were upset when Starbucks discontinued its gluten-free orange cake within months of its launch, worry no longer. Lucy’s are now available at 6,000 Starbucks locations! This tremendous growth has prompted the company to expand to a new 12,000 square foot facility. They now produce 375,000 cookies per week, compared to 30,000 only a year ago.
Vegan and gluten-free bloggers have raved about the taste and texture of Lucy’s cookies. As a matter of fact, Cinnamon Thins were the featured snack on “The Rachael Ray Show” last July. Four crunchy and not-too-sweet flavors (sugar cookies, cinnamon thins, chocolate chip and oatmeal) provide enough variety for any palate. Try dipping them in tea, crushing them for a pie crust, packing in your lunch or nibbling for a midnight snack. There are lots of ways you can get creative with these cookies.